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Is Flora a Force for Good in Cold Comfort Farm?

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Introduction

Is Flora a Force for Good? Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons is a 20th century novel following the move of an urban socialite, called Flora, from London to the countryside where she stays with her new-found relatives. The plot develops as Flora slowly befriends the wild country folk that she is living with and begins to change them to suit her common sense view of life. Through these changes many of the characters lose their individual characteristics and mannerisms and some abandon the farm - whether this is positive or not is subject to further analysis. One character on whose life Flora has a definite effect is Elfine (the granddaughter of Aunt Ada). We witness a process by which she is distinctively changed. She is described near the beginning of the novel as being at one with the earth, saying that she hates houses and further adding 'out here on the hills I am alone with my dreams'. Her whole image and aura is that similar to a wood nymph with her 'green cloak' and 'golden, unbrushed' hair, further described as a 'mane' drawing a stronger association and connection to animals and wildlife. ...read more.

Middle

However we never hear Flora's voice in the scenes found in the beginning and middle of the novel in which Aunt Ada has crazed monologues recalling the time that she saw something 'nasty in the woodshed'. After a few visits up to her room we see that Flora has changed Aunt Ada. At the wedding just after Aunt Ada's reappearance after her conversion, she is described 'smiling pleasantly' and uttering such phrases as: 'Well, well... ...surely...' and 'It sounds like the finale of the first act in a musical comedy'. This is typical Flora language and it seems there is no longer friction in styles of writing and register between the Ada scenes and the others from the book. The final phrase mentioned again shows how Flora has managed to induce a stronger sense of class and culture into the Starkadders in a typically urban way, going to musical comedies being a somewhat more refined activity than any the reader has witnessed at Cold Comfort Farm. As well as alerting Ada Starkadder to the joys of foreign countries and culture, Flora has modernised Aunt Ada in terms of her dress sense. ...read more.

Conclusion

I can't bear it!...there's the harvest...tes man's work...you mustn't go!' Here it appears that Flora may have helped Seth in the short term but one could not be sure of his future or of the mother he leaves without a son and the baby he leaves behind without a father. The changes which Flora induces in the novel are ones of forcing modernity and urbanisation onto a old fashioned rural family. The solving of problems with use of mechanisation (Ford van for Amos, the aeroplanes that Seth, Elfine, Ada fly off in); new exciting methods of medicine, such as psychotherapy and contraception; interest in other countries which are quite modernised - America and Europe, all contribute to the idea of distinguishing an old, wild, rural England which is symbolised in the Starkadder characters. Decision of whether this is positive or not is personal as it addresses the question of whether one prefers modernisation and urbanisation or keeping to rural roots. When it comes to deciding for each separate character whether the circumstances were in their favour it is easy to come to different conclusions for each. However either way, in terms of characters and historical relevance the loss of the wilderness and individuality for each is a shame as now everyone and everything seems to sticks Flora's method of 'tidyness'. ...read more.

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